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Before we discuss business writing, we want to give you a crash course on other

modes of communication. You’ll perform better in business if you know a thing

or two about nonverbal communication, active listening, and oral communication.

We’re starting out with a foundational section about the communication cycle,

which applies to visual as well as written and oral communication.


Understanding the overall process of communication will put you ahead of the

competition curve, particularly if you comprehend two major points.

• The communication cycle applies to all messages that people send to one

another—through writing, speech, images, and nonverbal gestures.

• Communication is a process that loops from the sender to the receiver

and, through feedback, returns to the sender. (Sometimes we send

messages without conscious intent or awareness of what information

we’re sending. This is particularly true of nonverbal messages, which

we’ll get to shortly.)

For now we’ll concentrate on examples in business communication to give

you a sense of the stages. Briefly, here’s how the communication cycle works

when it’s broken down into seven stages.


1. You, the sender, have an idea or information to share. At this initial stage,

the information is still in your head (like ideas for a sales presentation) or in your

files (like background notes for your resumé).

2. You, the sender, work the idea or information into a message that will

make sense to the receiver. This is where you figure out how to make your message

accessible and appropriate to your audience by:

• Making certain of your main purpose

• Analyzing your audience

• Choosing an appropriate form, tone, and style

3. You, the sender, choose the best time, channel (primarily written or

spoken), and medium (e-mail, letter, telephone, face-to-face meeting, etc.) for

sending the message.

4. The receiver gets the message. (If your receiver doesn’t read or hear your

message, then communication has failed.)

5. The receiver interprets the message. (Successful communication requires

active participation on the part of the receiver, who must comprehend your message

and respond to it in the way you intended.)

6. The receiver sends feedback to the sender. (Feedback allows you, the

sender, to evaluate the success of your communication. If the receiver doesn’t

understand your message, you will be able to tell from the feedback and go back

to Stage two to rework it.)

7. When all of the external goals are achieved, your communication is


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